For many individuals, being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) marks the first time they have even been arrested, and the first time they’ll have to confront what can be a confusing criminal justice system. Although DUI may be a relatively common criminal charge amid today’s increased focus on drunk and drugged driving, the penalties and consequences it poses are nothing to take lightly.
At Sutton & Janelle, PLLC, our legal team has earned a reputation for protecting the rights, freedoms, and futures of clients for a reasonable fee. Backed by the insight of Founding Partner J. Mark Sutton, who has over 20 years of experience handling DUI cases throughout West Virginia and Maryland, our firm understands that a DUI convictions threatens the livelihood of our clients – which is why we work to not only ensure our clients are fully informed, but also they receive the support and representation to secure the most favorable outcome possible.
DUI Criminal Penalties
Because DUI is a serious crime in both West Virginia and Maryland, defendants face serious criminal penalties upon conviction. While every case is unique, general penalties include:
- Court fines and fees
- Court and /or DMV imposed installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID),
- Terms of incarceration (up to 6 months for a first offense in West Virginia, and up to one for a first offense in Maryland)
- Driver’s license suspension (ranging from six months, one year, or 18 months of longer, depending on the circumstances)
These are general guidelines for criminal penalties that can be imposed in a first-time DUI case, but are by no means an indication of the penalties that may be handed down in your case. DUI penalties are highly dependent on the unique facts and circumstances related to an arrest and the accused individual, and they can be enhanced substantially (including enhanced fines, longer terms of imprisonment, and longer driver’s license suspension periods) when aggravating circumstances are involved.
Examples of aggravating circumstances that can result in more severe criminal and administrative penalties include:
- Prior DUI convictions, including any conviction for an alcohol DUI, DUI of drugs, permitting DUI, or equivalent convictions in other states, within a specified lookback period (10 years in West Virginia, and 5 years in Maryland)
- Underage DUI
- High BAC levels (i.e. .15 or above)
- Chemical test refusals (which can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension)
- Child passengers
- Accidents, including accidents resulting in injury or death (felony DUI)
- Open containers or drug crimes, including possession
- Driving on a suspended license
- Fleeing from law enforcement
Criminal penalties and driver’s license suspensions are not the only repercussions individuals can face following DUI convictions. There are a number of additional short- and long-term consequences associated with charges and convictions that can have a far-reaching impact on your personal, professional, and financial well-being. Examples include:
Financial consequences – DUIs are notorious for being costly, and financial consequences incurred by convicted individuals can stem from far more than fines and court fees alone. These can include:
- Costs associated with towing or impound fees after an arrest
- Filing and other administrative fees with a state licensing agency (i.e. reinstating a driver’s license)
- Installation and routine calibration (often monthly) fees for an Interlock Device
- Costs to attend any court-ordered DUI education or substance abuse treatment programs
- Increased auto insurance premiums
- Transportation costs incurred during a license suspension period
- Court-ordered restitution (in cases involving property damage and / or victim injuries)
Collateral consequences – In addition to financial expenses incurred following a conviction, there are many other collateral consequences that can follow convictions and a criminal record. Although these may not all impact any one individual, they are certainly real potential repercussions.
- Disciplinary actions, restrictions, or revocation of certifications, memberships, or a professional license (including medical licensing, bar admissions, etc.)
- Loss of employment or difficulties finding new employment (especially in jobs that require driving)
- Adverse consequences involving public benefits, housing opportunities, and educational opportunities, depending on the circumstances
- Loss of civil rights, including losing the right to vote or own a firearm (in certain cases, such as a felony DUI conviction)
- Deportation or other adverse immigration consequences
Protect Your Future with Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
Knowing the penalties and consequences at stake when you or a loved one have been charged with DUI can help you understand the seriousness of these allegations, as well as the importance of working with proven criminal defense attorneys who have the experience and resources to help you seek the best possible resolutions. At Sutton & Janelle, PLLC, our DUI attorneys work personally with our clients, and tailor defense strategies to the unique facts at hand. Whether our work focuses on challenging the government’s case and evidence against you, raising questions regarding probable cause officers had when making an initial stop, or seeking fruitful negotiations and compromise that can reduce charges or penalties, we work relentlessly to protect your future at every stage of the process.
Sutton & Janelle, PLLC is readily available to help you understand the charges and penalties you face, as well as what we can do to help, as soon as you reach out for help. Call (304) 867-0049 or contact us online for a FREE DUI consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout Berkeley County, Jefferson County, Morgan County, and Western Maryland.